8 Tips to Breeze Through a Phone Interview

| 5 min read


The advent of technology and the internet has advanced communication, recruitment, among other things. Potential employers now use different means to reach and screen their prospect.

One of the ways recruiters do this is to initiate a phone interview; this is a quick means to screen many candidates in a short time with less stress or inconvenience on both parties involved.

And as with other kinds of interviews, there are things you – the applicant – can do as part of your preparation to sail through the telephone interview. The following tips should help;


  • Find out how much time would be required.
    Before a phone interview takes place, ask how much time you should set aside for the call. If the answer is about 15-20 minutes, then expect a shorter, more superficial line of questioning, where your interviewer will probably only be interested in figuring if you are compatible with the job role. If you are asked to set aside 45-60 minutes, then expect a far more thorough interview where you will be assessed for your behaviour, experience and expertise.
  • Find somewhere quiet to make sure the call goes as smoothly as possible.
    Find a place you are sure you won’t be disturbed or distracted. It can come across as terribly unprofessional if there are children or dogs making a racket in the background or any sound that might disturb your conversation with the interviewer. You want to show that you take the job seriously.
  • Take the advantages that you can.
    One of the best things about telephone interviews is that you can keep notes. Often, during interviews, we get flustered or lose our train of thought. To avoid this, make note of the points you wish to raise, and any research you have done on the company you are interviewing with.
  • Do your homework.
    That it’s a phone interview doesn’t make it less effective and certainly not a reason to wing it. Do research into the company you are applying with. Find out what the company does, what makes it different from other companies of its kind, as well as the main strengths and weaknesses of the company.
  • Also make sure you are familiar with the job description.
    If you don’t know what the job description actually means then find out before the interview. Figure out, what your skill set and experience can bring to the position and what your areas of weaknesses might be. You don’t need to be a perfect fit for every aspect of the job description but you do need to be aware of where you diverge so that you can handle those questions in a clear and intelligent manner. Still on your research; make a list of the questions you think you might be asked and prepare answers to those questions. Questions that you may include on the list are: Why are you looking to leave your current position? What attracted you to this job opening? What makes you qualified for this position? You may not be asked these exact questions, but they are the kinds of questions usually asked and will aid your preparation.
  • Put together some questions of your own to ask.
    It is a good time to clarify aspects of the job description that you find confusing, discuss openly any questions you might have about the culture in the office. This is not the time to talk about benefits or hours, there will be time for that.
  • Don’t be quick to open a topic on remuneration.
    Sometimes, it’s best to avoid discussing salary at this point in the interview process, the potential employer might insist since s/he wants to make sure you both are on the same page, but allow your interviewer to broach the topic; because if you hurriedly jump into the talk of salary expectations, you may send off a wrong signal to your potential employer.
  • Keep track of the tone you use.
    Since the interviewer can’t see you, your body language or gestures are of no importance, but what’s extremely important is the tone of voice you use throughout the conversation. Make sure that through your tone, you come across as energetic, enthusiastic and interested. Be wary not to sound distracted or bored. This is your first chance to make your personality come through so don’t be shy about putting your best foot forward, this is after all, the purpose of the call.

At the end of the call, ask what the next steps might be. Find out if you should to hear from them or call in occasionally for updates. This will give you a good idea of what your expectations should be.


Author Bio: Richard McNunn is the director and founder of How2become.com, a UK-based website. Richard spent 17 years in the fire service and now provides insider recruitment training for people looking to join the fire service and the armed forces. Follow How2beome on Twitter

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